Brew days are long, aromatic affairs. Carefully, Bill stirs the malt mash as it heats, adding hops as the recipe calls for them. After cooling the wort, it goes into a bucket for fermentation.
A few days later, when the little device atop the bucket stops bubbling, Bill siphons the near-beer into another bucket for more bubbling. Then it's time for bottling and...waiting, waiting, waiting.
I play taste-tester and occasional assistant in this fascinating process. As I sip one of Bill's creations now, I'm thinking about how brewing fits so well into this new way of living we're moving towards:
1. It's educational: We know what goes into what we drink.
2. It's practical: We are—or at least Bill is—learning a new homesteading skill.
3. It's humbling: We have a heightened appreciation for ale artisans.
4. It's communal: We like to chat with people who drink and/or produce craft beer.
5. It's entertaining: Living on the side of a mountain, it's a good idea to find things that amuse.
6. It's affordable: After an initial $100 equipment investment, 5-gallon batches cost about $40.
In about four weeks, the latest brew (an Irish stout) will be ready to uncap and pour. If you happen to be in the area, your bottle awaits.